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NULab Co-Director Moira Zellner Publishes on Green Infrastructure

NULab Co-Director Moira Zellner recently published an article in Heliyon on green infrastructure, co-authored with Dean Massey of Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Here’s the abstract:

“Green infrastructure is often proposed to complement conventional urban stormwater management systems that are stressed by extreme storms and expanding impervious surfaces. Established hydrological and hydraulic models inform stormwater engineering but are time- and data-intensive or aspatial, rendering them inadequate for rapid exploration of solutions. Simple spreadsheet models support quick site plan assessments but cannot adequately represent spatial interactions beyond a site. The present study builds on the Landscape Green Infrastructure Design (L-GrID) Model, a process-based spatial model that enables rapid development and exploration of green infrastructure scenarios to mitigate neighborhood flooding. We first explored how well L-GrID could replicate flooding reports in a neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, USA, to evaluate its potential for green infrastructure planning. Although not meant for prediction, L-GrID was able to replicate the flooding reported and helped identify strategies for flood control. Once evaluated for this neighborhood, we extended the model to include water quality through the representation of dispersion and settling mechanisms for two pollutant surrogates—total nitrogen and total suspended solids. With the extended model, Landscape Green Infrastructure Design Model-Water Quality (L-GrID-WQ), we examined benefits, costs, and tradeoffs for different green infrastructure strategies. Bioswales were slightly more effective than other green infrastructure types in reducing flooding extent and downstream runoff and pollution, through increased infiltration and settling capacity. Permeable pavers followed in effectiveness and are suggested where spatial constraints may limit the installation of bioswales. Although green infrastructure supports both flooding and pollution control, small tradeoffs between these functions emerged across spatial layouts: strategies based on only curb-cuts better controlled pollution, while layouts that followed the path of water flow better controlled flooding. By illuminating such tradeoffs, L-GrID-WQ can support green infrastructure planning that prioritizes unique concerns in different areas of a landscape” (Zellner & Massey, 2024).

You can access the full article here.

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